KINGMAN, Ariz. - The endangered black-footed ferret continues to shrug off its near extinction as it climbs the steep hill toward recovery.
The small, specialist carnivore once numbered just 18 in the world when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. Efforts in Arizona's Aubrey Valley are showing promise as this animal continues to baffle the odds makers.
Spring spotlighting efforts - the method used to find the nocturnal animal - resulted in the documentation of 52 individual ferrets, 28 of which had never before been captured.
"This spring effort was a little earlier than we'd like, but we conduct spotlighting in conjunction with a full moon," said Jennifer Cordova, a biologist with the recovery effort. "The full moon is when predatory animals are most active. Despite being a bit earlier in the year, we still had good results."
Cordova credits the continued support of the public and the Heritage Fund in the recovery of the black-footed ferret. The spring effort included 139 volunteers, while the Heritage Fund provides the financial means for Game and Fish to be the lead agency for the program with no cost to Arizona taxpayers.
"These volunteers are committed to wildlife conservation efforts," Cordova stated. "We would not be where we are today without their support."
The current population numbers have Arizona meeting the original goals established for the recovery site, which boasts a self-sustaining population.
"There is reason for optimism for the species, but there's a long way to go," Cordova said. "Continued support from the public will play a pivotal role. Volunteers are crucial to help document ferret population trends throughout Aubrey Valley."
A second spotlighting effort will be held in October. For anyone interested in obtaining additional information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (928) 422-0155. To receive current information from Game and Fish's Kingman regional office, search for Azgfd Kingman on Facebook.